Student committee brings awareness to campus sustainability

The Sustainability Committee, a sub-group of the Associated Students of Madison (ASM), works toward identifying and addressing ways for UW-Madison to advance its environmental sustainability practices.

Collin Higgins proposed the initial legislation for the Sustainability Committee in the fall of 2012. Shortly thereafter, Higgins hosted the first meeting in spring of 2013 after recruiting a small group of students. The Committee did not run any campaigns that semester but did plan a large Sustainability Fair that brought sustainability-focused registered student organizations together to brainstorm student-driven campaign ideas for campus.

Recently, UW-Madison junior Leah Johnson was elected as the Sustainability Committee Chair at the 24th session held by the council. Johnson will work alongside Vice Chair Emily Way and past chair Billy Welsh throughout the summer and academic year to lead the Committee and its student-led campaigns.

Over the summer, Johnson is communicating with campus leaders and researching sustainable projects. For example, Johnson hopes that the campus will complete STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, in the upcoming academic year. A project of AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, STARS is a framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance and establish long-term sustainability goals.  UW-Madison is a member of AASHE.

This fall, the student Sustainability Committee will continue working on two campaigns that aim to build a greater awareness about the multi-faceted nature of environmentalism on campus. Johnson hopes to make students more aware about the Committee projects and to help them form connections with environmental sustainability in their everyday lives.

“We want to help add to the conversation on campus about preserving and protecting the environment. Caring about environmental sustainability for generations to come should not be a partisan idea, it should be something we all do,” says Johnson.

Weekly meetings for the Sustainability Committee are open for any UW-Madison students to attend and will resume in the fall. Students interested in becoming involved with the Committee are encouraged to visit the ASM table at the Student Organization Fair.

For specific questions about the ASM Sustainability Committee or more information about getting involved, contact Leah Johnson, at

By Trina La Susa